Sessions

 

CatalystCon East

March 2015 in Washington, DC

 

Sessions:

 

Click here to register!

 


Adaptive Sex and Kink: How We Do What We Do With What We’ve Got To Do It With
Del Tashlin

This is a “Sex and Disabilities” class like none other! In an attempt to be inclusive, many conferences host one or more workshops on the intersection of sex and disability. However, those workshops are usually focused on educating nondisabled people about various disabilities, or how to create events/spaces that are welcoming and accessible. But a glance around the room shows that the people who show up are persons with various challenges wanting to learn and share tips and tricks on how sex/kink works for them. This is the workshop you’ve been looking for!
Del is a sex educator and professional PWD (Pervert With Disabilities!). He has spoken to fellow disabled folks, sex toy companies, and occupational therapists to find ways people can enjoy sexual and kinky encounters not only in spite of, but because of their disabilities. He invites fellow PWDs – whether their disability is physical, developmental, cognitive, mental, emotional, or social – visible or invisible, as well as partners/lovers/admirers. If you have/use toys or props, bring them along for Show and Tell! Sex educators who want to expand their knowledge in order to have more inclusive workshops are also encouraged to attend.


American Courtesans
Kristen DiAngelo, Steve Gustafson

In 2013, the critically acclaimed documentary American Courtesans drew back the curtain on the lives of American Sex Workers. After a lifetime of work in the sex trade, Kristen DiAngelo decided to bring the profession out of the shadows and present a wide variety of women who discuss their lives as escorts, the events that led them to the job and the reasons they stay. Journalist Steve Gustafson sits down with producer, escort, and writer Kristen DiAngelo for an open discussion on the behind-the-scenes making of the award-winning documentary, the struggle bringing it to life, and the state of sex workers today. This seminar will take an honest look at the exceptional lives of sex workers, the risks, and the rewards.


At the Crossroads of Race and Gender: Creating Reformed Gender Ideologies for Black Males in the Context of Hegemonic Masculinity
Lauren Wesley

Hegemonic masculinity traditionally excludes those who are not members of it including women, gay men, lower-class white men and non-white men. Black men have historically been characterized as the most oppositional to hegemonic masculinity. However, even in this opposition, black men have strived to create a concept of masculinity for themselves in the context of traditional, white constructs. The unfortunate consequence of this goal is the overcompensation many black men have taken to in order to prove their manhood. As a result, some black communities have suffered at the hands of young, lower-income black men, who commit violent crimes against members of their own community, in efforts to validate their masculinity in a system that continues to marginalize them. In response to the economic and political disempowerment many black men face, this workshop introduces methods, models and strategies of a reformed definition of black masculinity in order to create a new opportunity for black males to thrive as men within their own communities. These models include a different perspective of masculinity to include the community leader, the family man and the protector as opposed to the traditional “breadwinner” model. This workshop will additionally discuss the participation of black male role models and educators along with the use of alternative language around these models to replace normalized ideas of manhood.


Beat Up And Burnt Out!
Minister L. Renair Amin Covington, MCC CRC

This is an engaged workshop wherein the attendees will be able to talk about what happens when “life happens” and their original purpose or vision is compromised. Using real life scenarios, participants will brainstorm on ways to handle barriers and life challenging situations that can create burnout. In addition, attendees will participate in improvisation activities to facilitate fun to keep the creativity flowing as well as open new methods of thinking. Utilizing breakout groups, as well as exchanges with the presenter and other peers, the experience of this workshop is designed to leave one with a clearer understanding of burnout and ways as to how to re-ignite the flame. Participants will analyze the concept of being “burned-out” and how that can occur. Attendees will also exchange ideas as to how to deal with such a feeling as well as to how to move beyond regardless of the overall outcome. They will also understand the importance of self-care and the “responsibility” regarding such when it comes to one that serves as a vessel within the community. Participants will also develop a list of self-care methods to implement in their daily lives.


Be PrEPared: HIV Prevention’s Newest Tool
Raul Queue

In 2012, Truvada –a two-drug combination used to treat HIV– was approved by the FDA for use as part of a preventative regimen for HIV-negative individuals at-risk for the virus. Prexposure Prophylaxis (or PrEP as its better known) has been making headlines since before its inception, and new studies show it’s as high as 100% effective for those who take follow the regimen as recommended; but as of 2013 only about 3000+ people are currently prescribed the medication. Misinformation, controversy, and basic lack of knowledge surround this promising new tool, but this session aims to give you the PrEP basics so that you can create your own opinions and move forward with protecting your sexual health as best as possible.


Beyond the Pop Shot: Using explicit instructional media for sex education
Bob Christian, Hernando Chaves, Jackie Strano, jessica drake

Since the beginning of recorded sexual imagery, erotica has been used by people to learn about sex. Whether the erotica was drawings, pictures, or video, learning about sex through erotica has been a form of acquiring sexual information, knowledge and comfort for people. In recent years, it has become more evident that pornography is not an adequate substitute for the poor or absent sex education people receive. Traditionally, pornography was never intended to directly sexually educate. Instead, it has been primarily a normative form of human sexual expression that aims to enhance fantasy, pleasure, and satisfy sexual desires.

With a glaring need for people to learn about sex, some studios both in and out of the porn industry have created explicit content specifically intended to educate people about sex. The instructional sex education DVD was born, which combined hands on visual sexual behaviors, education-based scripts, and sexual experts and actors offering sex advice and tips.

This session will discuss the evolution of sex education instructional videos, from their early onset to the modern instructional. The panel will discuss how the use of instructionals can impact sexual attitudes, challenge sexual anxiety, and improve the overall quality of people’s sexual relationships. How can instructionals be used by sex educators, therapists, and counselors to better serve their clients and students? How popular are instructionals and who buys them? Is there any research that looks at the impact of instructionals on people? The panel will examine these questions and more as we discuss the positive impact sex education instructional media has had on sex education.


Body Image Reboot
Brooke Norton

Body image is an integral part of sexuality, and yet so many of us have body image issues. We are inundated with messages that tell us that our bodies are flawed, and this can lead to the avoidance of intimacy and a lessening of sexual satisfaction. Our body image impacts how we live our lives: the choices we make, the relationships we choose, how good we feel, how we explore our sexuality, and even whether we have sex or not.

In this session, we will open the dialogue and discuss strategies to increase self-awareness and our good experiences of our bodies. Let’s examine our ideas so that we can increase our capacity for love for ourselves.


Consensual Nonmonogamy: What Social Science Research Reveals So Far
Zhana Vrangalova, PhD

We live in a world that glorifies monogamy and vilifies nonmonogamy. Yet many of us repeatedly fail in our attempts to remain completely sexually and emotionally monogamous with long-term partners, suggesting that some re-evaluation of our beliefs might be in order. Using the fast-growing body of social science research in the area of consensual nonmonogamy, this session will examine how much truth lies behind the stereotypes that monogamy is better–and nonmonogamy is worse–for people’s sexual satisfaction, social and emotional well-being, sexual health, relationship quality, and raising children.


Covering Porn: The Life of An American Porn Journalist
Gram Ponante

The American porn business is filled with contradictions: An industry barely a generation away from illegality, that largely ignores its own history in favor of women who are “barely legal,” that pays most of its stars less in the final years of their careers than in the first, yet that uses more bandwidth and makes more money than most mainstream industries, where misperceptions abound about the people who present themselves in such clinical detail. There’s a lot of significant legal, social, technological, and even artistic phenomena going on behind those facial cumshots. Join America’s Beloved Porn Journalist, Gram Ponante, who has covered this world with humor and thoughtfulness for a dozen years. In this session Gram shares some insights into the business, its history, and its personalities as well as anecdotes from porn sets, both behind and in front of the camera.


Cultivating Shame Resilience in Community
Adrial Dale, Ashley Manta, Katie Mack

Humans come in all shapes, genders, and circumstances, yet we all have one common struggle – shame. Defined as “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior,” shame is an inescapable part of the human experience. We have all felt it in one way or another. Sometimes that shame is imposed on us externally, be it from the people in our lives or society as a whole, and sometimes we impose it on ourselves.

Feeling shame, however, does not mean having to live with it forever. We feel shame when we believe that whatever we are thinking, feeling, or doing is inherently wrong, or different from what we think it should be.In this session we will explore that difference in-depth, touching on why we feel it, how we process it, the ways in which it effects our lives and relationships, and how to begin shedding it in favor of self-love and acceptance. We will also discuss the ways in which having a community of people with similar interests, backgrounds, passions, etc. can help to cultivate shame resilience.


The Dark Side: How Women Are Treated In Geek Culture
Ela Darling, Sherri L. Shaulis

This panel touches on how women fare in the world of cosplay, comic cons and geek culture in general.Too often, women are seen only as sex objects, or viewed as “lesser fans” because of their gender. Cosplayers face harassment, both verbal and physical, in some instances, and creators and fans of comics are often all too familiar with having the culture mansplained to them. Panelists will talk about their experiences in the culture, as well as offer their thoughts on how changes can be made.


Deconstructing Christian Erotophobia
Rev. Dr. Beverly Dale

Christianity has had little to say about human sexuality except that it must be marital, monogamous and heterosexual. Such a view emphasizes procreation and vilifies sexual pleasure. How did this view come about? This workshop will examine some of the lives, motivations, and teachings of the men who developed this theology of suspicion of sexual pleasure. Of interest will be the key passages of scripture that justify limits on human sexual pleasure, diversity, and freedom. This workshop will not question the legitimacy of Christianity, but it will deconstruct Christian erotophobia by revealing it to be inconsistent with the gospel that the church preaches. This workshop will be taught by a Christian clergy, but one does not have to be a Christian to attend.


Did We Consent to Consent?
Conner Habib

Consent is one of the foundations of sex positivity and sexual health, and rightfully so: Consent helps us draw boundaries and communicate desire during sex. But consent has a history, and it’s not always positive. Consent as concept has been used in the past by people and institutions in power to create sex negativity and oppression. And it’s still being used by some that way today. In this lecture, we’ll examine consent’s vital role in sexual ethics, its rocky history, and how the concept is abused. We’ll also look into how we understand consent in our own lives, what it gives to us, and why consent alone is not enough of a foundation for sex positivity.


The Dirty Business of Money
K. Davis Senseman, Esq

Whether you’re a sex worker, educator, author, retailer or blogger, you know that even folks who revel in dealing with taboo sex topics have trouble talking about one thing in particular – money. Why do we hear statistics about the billions of dollars generated by the sex industry but still worry about paying our rents when we’re working in it? What can you do as an individual to make sure you’re valuing yourself and your work the way others are, and what tools do you need to make that happen? How can you gain the leverage that big players in the game already have? This session will deal with the legal, accounting and negotiation tactics that every freelancer, creative person or entrepreneur should know before they attempt to broach a discussion about the big taboo – Money.


Elders Panel: “How Did We Get Here?
Carol Queen, PhD, Joan Price, Dr. Robert Morgan Lawrence, Terri Clark

Carol Queen, Robert Morgan Lawrence, and Terri Clark are lively and influential sex educators who have been activists for sexual expression and acceptance since the sixties and seventies. They’ll discuss these topics and more:

  • How we were expected to behave and hide when we were young, and what happened to those who didn’t;
  • What sexual awareness/ activism was like in the sixties and seventies;
  • Why the sexual liberation and feminist movements were so important then and still are now;
  • Why the younger generation(s) need to understand what our pioneers accomplished for us;
  • What generational riffs we see now and how we can bridge the gap together.

Learn about the history behind your sexual liberation, which would not have happened without the trailblazing efforts of people like our panelists.


Fuck Respectability Politics
Melinda Chateauvert, Stacey Swimme

Sex workers have been fighting for their right to work, for respect and for justice for a very long time. At least since Stonewall, as they worked on street corners, or hung out in bars or chatted online, sex workers and other hustlers have identified multiple problems, crafted amazing ways to fix them, and then started fantastic projects that are radical, innovative, even revolutionary.
This workshop begins with an exploration of community development among sex workers, recovering movement leaders and grassroots activists who have worked in coalition with allies sometimes struggled against those allies in sexual liberation campaigns. We will consider how sex workers self-identify against the labeling done by government, media and the rescue industry.
Sex worker-led movements have been co-opted when “respectable” people or mainstream organizations take up criminalization and sex worker issues, but shut out those who began the work. One tactic is co-opting the terms such as “harm reduction” and “rights-based approaches,” while supporting “End Demand” legislation. Such “colonization” even “vampirism” means that the paradigm-shifting analyses are “translated” into more “workable” policies. To wit, the NYPD can only arrest folks carrying four or more condoms when they are hanging in certain areas, rather than anywhere in the city.

Sex workers need “allies” not “saviors.” Allies are critical forces who can amplify the voices of sex workers’ voices and challenge “feminist” advocates. This workshop will cover best practice guidelines for allies, developing new activist tactics that can enhance human rights and protect vulnerable sex workers.


Help Us Tell the World It Is Confused About Sex-Positivity!
Carol Queen, PhD, Dr. Robert Morgan Lawrence

“Sex-positive” is a term that we never used to see in the mainstream. Now it’s referenced in all kinds of press and is even a controversial term, for sometimes bewildering reasons. It’s clearly a word that means many things to many people—and that’s not necessarily good! Come learn about the history of this term and the ideas that back it up, and help us take it back from the people who seem to think it means, “Woo-hoo! Everybody fuck now!” Sexologists Queen and Lawrence are partners, co-founders of the Center for Sex & Culture in San Francisco, and they both work to create the cultural conditions that “sex-positive” really describes.


Hey Ace! The Basics of Asexuality
Morgan Thorne

Our sex positive world has expanded our view of sexuality greatly in the last few decades, opening our eyes to many new types of sexual expression. However, there is one group that tends to get overlooked – Asexuals.

Asexuality runs a wide range from ‘grey’ asexuality and demi-sexuality to asexuals who still want to forge romantic relationships (some who even have sex!) and those who choose instead to create new types of relationships, without sexuality or engage in D/s or kink oriented relationships and of course those who prefer to go it alone – enjoying no sexuality or solo-sexuality.

Some asexuals are born, others find that they become asexual because of life circumstance – some people will dance the line between being sexual and asexual, often falling into the ‘grey’ area, all of their lives.

This workshop is intended for both asexuals and sexuals alike. If you are wanting to understand this less talked about orientation, have a partner who is (or may be) asexual or are (or are struggling with) asexual(ity) yourself, Morgan Thorne will share her personal perspective on her own asexuality, how it has increased her drive to find more meaningful D/s relationships and created an insatiable appetite for kink.


How to be a Sex Positive Warrior in Public Health
Kaitlyn Scalisi, MPH, Maria Quinn, BA, Rick Aguilar

As the age-old battle between public health and sex positivity rages on, there comes a time when every warrior must step forward to defend what they know is right. In this panel, three sex positive public health professionals will explore why public health and sex positivity are often at odds, the overlap between the two fields, and how they can work together to benefit everyone.

This session is intended for anyone interested in exploring these intersections in order to bridge the gap between public health and sex positivity.


How to Sell Sex, Yourself and Everything Else
Cinder

Learn what mega marketing agencies know that you don’t– persuasion, influence and the psychology of online economics. Session will cover topics ranging from basic digital marketing concepts to advanced methodologies and include Q&A time where participants can get feedback/improvement ideas for their web properties.


Illegal Touch in the USA
Barbara Carrellas

In many American cities, receiving money for providing a professional spanking, a full body massage, a prostate massage, flagellation, a topless performance, or a lap dance can be illegal. How do those of us committed to offering healing, pleasurable touch navigate the complex system of laws that makes what we do illegal? How do we learn new skills, market ourselves, decide on professional ethics, and find creative and emotional support when our work is criminalized? How do we navigate the loneliness, isolation, shame, and fear for our safety? Where are the interlaced communities of like-minded practitioners where we can find support and empowerment?

This afternoon we’ll talk about how can we survive and thrive until we can change prostitution laws in the U.S. This group discussion, facilitated by Barbara Carrellas, is based upon what she has learned from the participants of her Urban Tantra® Professional Training Program, in which sex professionals from 25 countries have come together for the past five years for support, inspiration and to explore the myriad ways in which we do sex work.

This workshop is for all sexuality professionals in all fields, including those of you who are just starting out or have retired, as well as those who provide support services to sex professionals.


Is there a secret handshake? – Navigating Alternative Lifestyles
Andrea Renae, Dylan Thomas, Lola, Rebecca Hiles

Many people are drawn to alternative lifestyles such as BDSM, polyamory, and swinging, because they are seeking to explore a different side of themselves. As part of the learning process, people often feel that it is important to find a community to help educate them on their new lifestyle journey. For some, seeking out a community for education and camaraderie can be the most difficult part of the journey. At times, it may feel as though you have joined a club, but never learned the secret handshake.

In this session, we will share ways to find your place within the alternative community that meshes with your needs and desire. This panel will cover topics ranging from appropriate lifestyle etiquette and finding a community, to negotiation and safety.


The Kids Are All Right: What Does Sex Positive Parenting Look Like?
Dylan Thomas, Madelon Guinazzo, Monique Darling

We’ve all spent time and energy on our journeys learning to be more open, more accepting, more understanding, more sex positive. How do we bring our children along on that journey while they’re still busy growing up? What will they think as they come along? Will they be all right?

Madelon Guinazzo, Monique Darling, and Dylan Thomas will step you through some of their most uncomfortable, most Conscientious, most rewarding conversations with our own families as we figured out that our kids’ paths did not automatically mirror our own. We’ll demonstrate that respecting our children as individuals and emphasizing that people are more than genders, races or orientations and modelling that by accepting them and their friends for who they are helped lay the groundwork for giving them the expanded tool-kit we all sometimes take for granted. We’ve offered them, through direct role modeling, sophisticated communication, a better ability to connect with and understand others, and the strength to withstand other people’s perceptions and opinions even when that may present as fear and judgement. We’ll touch on our discussions about privacy and exposure, even about how we’ve discussed this panel with our children and negotiated consent to relay their experiences to everyone.

This panel is for parents and for everyone in the Sex Positive Lifestyle who will ever work, partner with, or advice in any capacity.


The Limits of Sex Positive
Dr. Chris Donaghue, Conner Habib

The sex positive movement has helped contribute to a healthier, better educated, and more open sexual culture. But with any cultural shift, new dangers are created. What are the limits, pitfalls, and problems of the sex positive movement? In this session, Chris Donaghue and Conner Habib, and the attendees will pull apart six failures of sex positivity:

The identity trap: Understanding identity is crucial to a healthy sexual ethic and culture; but when does identity become unhealthy? When do identity politics go wrong in the sex positive movement?

Compulsively open relationship: Respect for non-monogamy is a foundation of the sex positive movement, but how many of us truly choose to be open rather than monogamous? Can open relationships be another cultural pressure, played out in an unhealthy way even by sexual progressives?

Scientific Codependence: Science, facts, and studies provide much of the fuel for a rational, down to earth cultural conversation about sex. But emphasizing science at the expense of other aspects of the human experience can create an unfeeling and narrow sexual perspective.

Anxious Eroticism: An honest and open expression of sexual topics and languaging are important components of being sex positive, but much open sexual expression of sex can flood others and actually do damage versus activism and evolution.

Scope of Practice/Competence: The field of sex-related professionals is expansive in terms of practitioners and advocates. This brings much-needed services and attention to increasing sexual health. Caution is needed when sexual advocates provide counsel and advice that is outside the scope of their training and education. We all need to be aware of the limits of our practice.

Working in Sex While Hating Sex: The sexuality field is full of many individuals with a desire to advance sexual right and sexual freedom. Sex negativity still lurks unconsciously as many advocates sustain oppression by having not examined parts of sexuality they still shame and pathologize.


Material Matters
Coyote Amrich, Parker

In the past few years, the sex toy industry has seen more innovation & mainstream acceptance than all previous years combined. While a stronger grasp of design & functionality has been reached, an understanding of the materials they are made from seems to have become cloudy & full of misinformation. Materials have often been talked about, debated, & discussed but many of these conversations have focused around the notion of ‘toxicity’ rather than actual information about these materials & why they are used. What can contribute to people having sensitivities? Are all wood toys safe to use? What is elastomer? Is propylene glycol really antifreeze? Is there a difference between products made domestically vs overseas? As material misinformation continues to spread, it becomes clear that a stronger understanding of the reality of manufacturing & the reasoning behind particular material usage, must become part of the conversation. With decades of experience in the sex industry, our panel will discuss the history of how sex toys have been made, what materials have been used & what strides have been made in materials & manufacturing practices. We will discuss different products, some of the processes of manufacturing & how to be a more educated consumer, buyer, writer or sex educator.


The Missing Pieces of the Female Anatomy Puzzle
Sheri Winston
10% of women have never had an orgasm. Over half don’t orgasm from intercourse. We have one of the highest hysterectomy rates in the world. Why? What are the implications of these statistics?
The cultural debate continues over questions like whether there’s a g-spot, if female ejaculation is real, or if direct clitoral stimulation is the only path the orgasm.

Discover the answers to these questions and controversies.
Did you know that women have an entire network of structures responsible for arousal and orgasm? Most people, including health care providers, educators, scientists and anatomists, don’t. Why? Because, improbable as it may seem, our culturally accepted map of female genitalia is incomplete and inaccurate.

Discover the Female Erectile Network—the three-part clitoris, the vestibular bulbs, and the urethral and perineal sponges. Find out how the uterus is a player in female pleasure. You’ll discover, among other things, that women have as much erogenous erectile tissue as men do, the role of the uterus in orgasm, and the source of female ejaculate.

This radical and foundational information offers a crucial understanding of the connections between sexuality, reproduction, pleasure, fertility, and physical and psychological health. Our culture has widespread misunderstandings about female genitalia and the repercussions are extensive. Sexual dissatisfaction, unnecessary surgery and poor self-esteem are just a few of the ramifications of our cultural misinformation about female genitalia. This information is essential to health, happiness and erotic empowerment. Learn what’s really there, why, how it connects and how to increase female erotic pleasure.


Motherhood, Depression & Sex
Anaín Bjorkquist, GG Renee Hill, Jessica Cary, Miko Technogeisha

From the moment of conception hormones begin to change women’s minds and bodies preparing them for motherhood. For women already dealing with depression these changes and the demands of motherhood can exacerbate their depression making it hard to find pleasure in life. This panel will explore the challenges that mothers with depression face while trying to retain hold of their sexuality. We’ll also discuss the internal barriers that keep many moms undersexed and over stressed. Join panelists Miko Technogeisha, GG Renee Hill, Jessica Cary and Anaín Bjorkquist as they share their first hand knowledge on how sex can help women nourish themselves, ease depression and be better mothers.


New Views on Pornography: Sexuality, Politics, and the Law
Carol Queen, Ph.D., Jackie Strano, Kevin Heffernan, Ph.D., Kimberly A. Harchuck, Esq., L.LM., Lynn Comella, Ph.D., Shar Rednour

Recent years have seen an uptick in media attention, online articles, academic research, popular books, and everyday conversations about pornography. This panel brings together a group of academics, lawyers, and industry insiders—all contributors to the book New Views on Pornography: Sexuality, Politics, and the Law—to discuss pornography’s relationship to contemporary cultural, political, and legal debates. What are the key legal issues that surround sexually explicit content, including obscenity, child pornography, and online piracy? How did porn production and distribution change throughout the 20th century, from stag films to video arcades to home video? What were the circumstances that helped give rise to lesbian, women-centered, and queer porn in the 1990s and beyond? This panel will discuss these and other issues regarding pornography—a topic that continues to be both compelling and controversial.


Pleasure and Danger on Campus
Amber Melvin, Elizabeth Juarez, Jessica Ross, Nia Pines

Slut shaming, hookups, sexting, and porn. These are the backdrops to sex in the 21st century—and topics that receive robust media attention. This panel expands the conversation by highlighting recent events on college campuses, which are the site of both progressive change and regressive campaigns. Topics for discussion include organized attacks on abortion rights, crisis pregnancy centers, national attention to campus sexual assault, and conversations about kink, new media, and other explorations in sexual pleasure. Whether college is in our past or our future—or whether we attended the College of Life—campus issues are trial balloons for broader public concerns. These are issues that matter to us all.


Renaming Desire — Trans/Non-Trans Sex
Ignacio Rivera, Yoseñio V Lewis

The workshop will focus on sex between trans and non-trans people, and the fears, desires and assumptions about that sex. This will be an opportunity for people to gather and talk honestly about sexual attraction between and among trans and non trans people and the political implication(s) of manifesting that attraction. We will talk about identities and gender roles and assumptions and the limitations of such. We will do all this and more in an atmosphere of openness and clarity. ATTENDEES: please be aware that we will be using adult language in this workshop. All are welcome.


Sense & Shibari- a re-evalution of the knowledge of rope bondage and the possibilities of researching kink.
Hedwig

This is a presentation of academic research that explore how Shibari and Kinbaku (japanese rope bondage) practitioners make sense of what they do. How do those who involved in rope speak of it, how do they feel it, what does it mean to them and how does rope feature in their lives?

We will explore the possibilities of tactile experiences, how one can speak about power when it comes to rope-bondage, and the affects of rope-bondage. What can it mean to focus on the tactile, sensory encounter when doing kink research and how can we move away from reproducing stereotypes?

The intention is to present more nuanced representation of bondage practitioners within academia and to refuse a reducing and/or stereotyping image, to broaden the perspectives and continue a nuanced debate in regards to what it means to do research within the field of BDSM. Not only to question ways in which we often understand bodies and lust in relation to BDSM but also to give alternatives that encourage critical engagement and challenge preconceptions.


Sex, Dating, Kink, and the ‘C’ Word
Charlie Nox, Kaitlyn Scalisi, Rebecca Hiles

Cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed diseases in our country and today’s survivors are living longer and fuller lives than ever before. For many, these lives include all sorts of sex and dating adventures. Unfortunately, sex is rarely discussed at any time during cancer care, often leaving survivors with questions, concerns, fear, and shame.

In this panel, we’ll be discussing the common sexual side effects of cancer and its treatments, medical options for dealing with these effects, tips for navigating sex, dating, and relationships after a diagnosis, and how to address safety concerns for survivors who engage in kink. The panelists will draw from their experience in medicine, sex education, and as cancer survivors to provide an intimate look into changes that cancer brings and how to deal with them all!

This panel is ideal for anyone dealing with a chronic illness, their partners, treatment providers who want to learn more about working with this growing population, and anyone who has felt out-of-place in or betrayed by their body.


The Sex Education of Media: How Social Media Impacts and Distorts Your Sexuality
Dr. Chris Donaghue

Media and social media apps are the leading sex educator for America and most powerful form of socialization. The media has the monopoly on shaping the attitude of how our country thinks, speaks, writes, and treats sex. The media utilizes sexual stereotypes, distortions of sexual reality, and dramatic sex negative examples to communicate their message and teach about unhealthy sexual norms. The media you surround yourself with is the world you live in and this builds your personal and sexual psychology. This presentation will explore how social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the sex/dating apps Grindr, Tinder etc), are determining not only mass perceptions about sex but also about bodies, values, and norms. It will highlight how the social media images that one immerses themselves within has an influence over their self-esteem and sexual body esteem and acts as a psychological and sexual role model. There is a power in what images and posts we surround ourselves in and this forms our internal working model of what we see as sexually attractive, acceptable, and “normal”.


Sex on the Stage: Where Sexuality Meets Performance Art
Cameryn Moore, Fancy Feast, Lucas Brooks, Mo Beasley

In a culture where sex-negativity and body-shaming run rampant, one of the most effective ways to empower others to embrace their sexuality is to lead by example. The road to perfect sex-positivity is paved further every day by the educators, authors, and bloggers who make up our community. But perhaps the boldest of them all are those who put their bodies and their stories on the stage for all to enjoy and experience.

This panel features an expansive spectrum of performance artists who bare their souls or bodies (or both!) before the spotlight, and combine exhibitionism and self-expression to manifest a happier, healthier, sexier world.


Sharing Your Sex Life on the Page and the Stage
Cooper Beckett, Jillian Keenan, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Twanna Hines
Whether on the page, stage or podcast, sharing personal sex stories means making public what’s often deemed private and inviting audiences to read, hear—and judge. What are the biggest challenges and rewards of airing our “dirty” laundry? How do we decide which sex stories are worth telling? Is there such a thing as TMI? How can we be deeply honest while honoring others’ boundaries (and having ours respected)? How can we tie our lives into what’s happening in the larger world and further social and political change? Is writing about your sex life different than sharing it live or via podcast? This panel will explore what it’s like to invite readers, listeners and audiences inside our bedrooms, and beyond. Featuring Cooper Beckett, blogger and founder of podcast Life on the Swingset, Twanna A. Hines, blogger, Metro sex columnist and creator/performer of one-woman Capital Fringe show I Füçkèd Your Country, and Jillian Keenan, who’s written about BDSM and sexuality for The New York Times, Slate and elsewhere, and is at work on a book on Shakespeare and sexuality. Moderated by Rachel Kramer Bussel, Philadelphia City Paper sex columnist and author of the personal essay collection Sex & Cupcakes.


Videos, Music & Reality TV: The Degradation of Black Women’s Sexuality
Dr. TaMara Griffin

Black women’s sexuality is already stereotyped, stigmatized, taboo and bogged down by layers of negative intergenerational patterns and ideologies that have been passed down from slavery. Unfortunately, these ideologies are still present. The prevailing images of Black women in the media include: ex’s, jezebel, baby-mama, video vixen, chicken-head, gold digger, angry Black woman, and hoe. These images and ideologies, with their highly sexual undertones, helps to influence the way in which Black women view themselves. This dynamic workshop will explore how the entertainment and media impacts sexuality and self-esteem and how both may reinforce unhealthy behaviors and decision-making that may contribute to the transmission of HIV and other STI among Black women.


A Whirlwind Tour of the Gender Spectrum
Wintersong Tashlin

It sure isn’t a binary world out there! The range of people’s experiences, identities, and presentations of gender/sexuality are extraordinary, and yes, sometimes confusing. In this workshop, Wintersong will help illuminate the myriad of ways people experience and express their identities, with an eye towards deepening interpersonal understanding and relations. Intended primarily for people new to many of these concepts, there will be lots of time for questions and discussion.


Who Are Our Allies In Advocating for Healthy Sexuality For Adults Over 50?
Marc Richman, M.D., Melanie Davis, PhD, CSE, Walker Thornton, M.Ed.

Making a living as a sexuality educator requires creative thinking, especially when it comes to reaching older adults and the professionals who serve them. This panel discussion will examine the various places where work is available—and how we create it—for educators, speakers and writers. Who are our allies and potential partners? How do we build these partnerships? From medical practitioners to the spa or gym—where do we find our target audience? This panel discussion will cover: how to identify and reach out to allies, how to build mutually beneficial relationships and how to take an entrepreneurial approach to sex education. We will address sexuality education for older adults of all genders and orientations.


Why Can’t I Go to a Sex Party?: Ethical Dilemmas for Professionals
Michael Giordano, LICSW, Tamara Pincus

Finding the balance between your professional and personal lives can be challenging for many people. However, for mental health practitioners, educators, clergy and other professionals who are also members of the poly/kinky/positive sexuality communities, this can be a real quandary. This facilitated roundtable discussion will provide an opportunity for professionals to discuss how they manage professional boundaries while being true to their sexualities and communities. Mike Giordano and Tamara Pincus, two psychotherapists in Washington, DC, will assist participants in exploring their concerns as well as ways to address them.


Within-Community Advocacy
Lillith Grey

It’s probably a safe bet to say that most of those who attend Catalyst have some interest in or motivation toward social justice, empowerment, freedom, and communication. Because we are all invested in these ideas, events and communities based around them very often include people who have themselves been affected by marginalization and hegemony. This offers us an opportunity to hear diverse voices speak their own truth about their experiences and makes space to give voice to the voiceless as we search for solutions. Advocating in the mainstream world is a hard, draining battle, and these kinds of events and gatherings provide a chance for us to come together to rest and recuperate, to give and receive support from others, and to learn and teach about so many things. So what happens when advocacy is called for within the very community that is supposed to rejuvenate us? How do we work within our own systems to challenge privilege and increase awareness, and how does that work differ from the ways we fight in the mainstream community? Join the discussion as we talk about the social justice movement, potential barriers to communication, ways to resolve conflict, responsible use of social media, repairing ruptured relationships, and more.

%d bloggers like this: